The Hebrew Statesman-Prophet at Babylon
While yet a mere youth Daniel was carried to Babylon where he lived during the whole period of the Captivity, at times occupying high office in the Babylonian and Persian Empires.
The City of Babylon
Babylon, scene of Daniel's ministry, was the wonder city of the ancient world. Situated in the cradle of the human race, near the Garden of Eden region, built around the Tower of Babel, first seat of empire, a favorite residence of Babylonian, Assyrian
and Persian kings, even of Alexander the Great, a commanding city through the whole pre-Christian era, Babylon was brought to the zenith of its power and glory in the days DANIEL, by Nebuchadnezzar, who was Daniel's friend, and who, during his 45 years reign, never wearied of building and beautifying its palaces and temples.
The Size of Babylon. Ancient historians said that its wall was 60 miles around, 15 miles on each side, 300 feet high, 80 feet thick, extending 35 feet below the ground so that enemies could not tunnel under; built of brick I foot square and 3 or 4 inches thick; 1/4 mile of clear space between the city and the wall all the way around; the
wall protected by wide and deep moats (canals) filled with water; 250 towers on the wall, guard rooms for soldiers; 100 gates of brass. The city was divided by the Euphrates into two almost equal parts: both banks guarded by brick walls all the way, with 25 gates connecting streets, and ferry boats; one bridge, on stone piers, 1/2 mile long, 30 feet wide, with drawbridges which were removed at night. A tunnel under the river, 15 feet wide, 12 feet high. Excavations of recent of years have, to large extent, verified the seemingly fabulous accounts of ancient historians.
The Great Temple of Marduk (Bel ), adjoining the Tower of Babylon (Babel?), was the most renowned' sanctuary in all the Euphrates valley. It contained a golden image of Bel and a golden table which together weighed not less than 50,0o0 pounds. At the top were golden images of Bel and Ishtar, 2 golden lions, a golden table 40 feet long and 15 feet wide, and a human figure of solid gold 18 feet high. Truly Babylon was a "city of gold," (Isaiah 14:4). The city was very religious: It had 53 temples; and 180 altars to Ishtar.
It may have been in the plain between Tower of Babylon and Palace of Nebuchadnezzar that the "image of gold" was set up (3:1).
Nebuchadnezzar's Palace, into which Daniel often went, was one of the most magnificent buildings ever erected on earth. Its vast ruins were uncovered by Koldewey (1899-1912). The south walls of the Throne Room were 20 feet thick. The north side of the palace was protected by three walls. Just north of them were more walls 50 feet thick. A little further on still more massive walls. And about a mile further out was the Inner Wall of the city, which consisted of two parallel walls of brick, each about 20 feet thick, 40 feet apart, the space between filled with rubble, making a total thickness 6f 8o feet, with a deep and wide moat (canal) on the outside. Further on was the Outer Wall, built in the same manner. In the days of ancient warfare the city was simply impregnable.
The Hinging Gardens of Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world; built by Nebuchadnezzar for his Median Queen, beautiful daughter of Cyaxeres who had helped his father conquer Nineveh; on several tiers of arches, one over another, each bearing a solid platform; 400 feet square; terraces and top covered with flowers, shrubs and trees, garden on the roof; watered from reservoir at top to which water was raised from the river by hydraulic pumps. Underneath, in the arches, were luxurious apartments the pleasure ground of the palace. Built while Daniel was chief governor of the wise men of Babylon. Koldeway uncovered arches in the Northeast corner of the palace which he thought were the Hanging Gardens.
Ruins of the "Hanging Gardens" of Babylon
Processional Street, the great royal and sacred road, entered at the North, gradually ascended, passed into the palace grounds at the Northeast corner, through Ishtar gate, and high over the center of the city, gradually descending to the Southeast corner of the Tower of Babylon wall, where it turned directly West to the river bridge. On both sides were highly defensive walls 20 feet thick, adorned with brilliant, many-colored glazed reliefs of lions. The street was paved with stone slabs, 3 feet square. Near the entrance to the palace the blocks are still in their place, just as they were when Daniel walked over them.
The City of Babylon
Destruction Prophesied. "Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans pride, shall become a wilderness, a dry land, a desert wholly desolate. It shall no more be inhabited. Neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation. The wild beasts of the desert shall lie there. Their houses shall be full of doleful creatures. Wolves shall cry in their castles, end jackals in their pleasant palaces. And Babylon shall be desolate forever. They shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake" (Isaiah 13:17-22; Jeremiah 51:37-43).
It remained an important city through the Persian period. Alexander the Great would have restored its glory, but his plans were cut short by death. After him, it declined. By the time of Christ its political and commercial supremacy had gone, and in the first century A.D. the greater part was in ruins. Its bricks have been used in building Baghdad and repairing canals. For centuries it has been a desolate heap of mounds, a place for the beasts of the desert; a remarkable fulfillment of prophecy; still uninhabited except for a little village at the Southwest corner.
Ruins of Babylon
The Ruins. The present day mounds are the remains of the great buildings which occupied the central part of the city. They are mostly on the East side of the river, and cover an area about 3 1/2 by 3 miles. The three principal mounds, as may be noted on the map, are Babil, the North mound; Kasr, the central mound; and Amran, the South mound Babil was the fortress guarding the North entrance to the city, about 1 1/2 miles between it and Kasr; 130 feet high, but only about 1/3 the size of Kasr. Kasr, about 1/2 mile square, 70 feet high, covers the ruins of the Palace of Nebuchadnezzar. Amran, 1/2 mile south of Kasr, and about the same size and height, covers the ruins of the great Temple of Marduk (Esagilat) On the plain at the north edge of the Amran mound are the ruins of the great Tower of Babylon, commonly identified with the Tower of Babel. The low mounds between Kasr and Amran, and somewhat eastward, are called Merkes, the business and residence center of the city.
In looking at the ruins, it is hard to realize that here once stood Great Babylon, the city of extravagance and wicked luxury beyond imagination, unsurpassed in the history of the world, now a scene of utter desolation and ruin.
Excavations began with Rich ( A.D. 181 1 ) ; were continued by Layard (1850); Oppert (1854); Rassam (1878-89); but the most thorough and complete work has been done by a German Expedition under Robert Koldeway (1899-1912).
The Babylonian Empire
In Daniel's day, the city of Babylon not only was the premier city of the pre-Christian world, but it ruled the most powerful empire that had up to that time existed. The Empire lasted 70 years. Daniel was there from its rise to its fall.
The kings under whom Daniel lived were: Nabopolassar (625-604 B.C.); Nebuchadnezzar (606-561 B.C.); Evil-Merodach (561-560 B.C.) Neriglissar (559-556 B.C.); Labash-Marduk (556 B.C.); Nabon-idas (555-536 B.C.), and his son Belshazzar.
Daniel's life in Babylon, thus, extended from the first year of Nebuchadnezzar, through the reigns of the succeeding five kings, past the Fall of Babylon, into the Persian Empire, through the reign of Darius the Mede, even unto the third year of Cyrus the Persian (10:1); in all, from 606 B.C. to 534 B.C., 72 years, from the first year of the Jews' Captivity till 2 years after their Return from the Captivity-God's witness in the palace of the empire that ruled the world.
Daniel was friend and adviser to Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar was the genius and real builder of the Babylonian Empire. Of its 70 years' existence, he ruled 45 years.
Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar, viceroy of Babylon, threw off Assyrian yoke (625 B.C.) and ruled city (625-604 B.C.)
In 609 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar was placed at the head of his father's armies. Invading the Western countries, he wrested control of Palestine from Egypt (606 B.C.), and took some Jewish captives to Babylon, among them DANIEL.
That same year (606 B.C.), he became co-regent with his father; and sole ruler (604 B.C.). He proved to be one of the mightiest monarchs of all time.
The following year (605 B.C.), he broke the power of Egypt, in the famous battle of Carchemish.
In 597 B.C. he crushed a new rebellion in Palestine, and took king Jehoiachin and many captives to Babylon, among them EZEKIEL .
In 586 B.C. he burned Jerusalem, and took more captives. Then for 13 years his army besieged Tyre (585-573 B.C.).
In 582 B.C. he invaded and plundered Moab, Ammon, Edom and Lebanon; and in 581 B.C. he again took captives from Judah. In 572 B.C. he invaded and plundered Egypt. Died 561 B.C.
Daniel exerted a powerful influence over him; and three time he called the God of Daniel God (2:47; 3:29; 4:34).
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: Nebuchadnezzar's Cameo. It is stated in Schaff's Bible Dictionary that "in the Berlin Museum there is a black cameo, whit Nebuchadnezzar's head upon it, cut by his order, whit the inscription, "In honor of Merodach, his lord, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in his life-time had this made".
The Book of Daniel
The book itself represents Daniel as its author (7:1, 28; 8:2; 9:2; 10:1, 2; 12:4, 5). Its genuineness was sanctioned by Christ (Matthew 24:15). It was so accepted by Jews and Early Christians. Porphyry, and infidel of the 3rd century A.D. propounded the theory that the book was a forgery of the period of the Maccabean revolt (168-164
B.C.). However, the traditional view that the book is a true historical document dating from the days of Daniel himself persisted unanimously among Christian and Jewish scholars, till the rise of modern criticism. And now the critics, in the name of "modern scholarship," have revived the theory of Porphyry, and put it forth as a settled fact, that the book was written by an unknown author, who, living 400 years after the days of Daniel, assumed Daniel's name, and palmed off on his own generation his own spurious work, as the genuine work of a hero long dead. If the book is not exactly what
it professes to be, how can we think that God could be a parry to the deception? For writers to put forth their own ideas in the names of heroes who lived long before is not even common honesty. We suspect that the real crux of the attempt to discredit the book of Daniel is the unwillingness of intellectual pride to accept the marvelous miracles and amazing prophecies recorded in the book.
The language of the book is Aramaic, or Chaldee, from 2:4 to 7:28, which was the commercial and diplomatic language of the time. The rest is in Hebrew. This is what might be expected in a book written; for Jews living among Babylonians, containing copies of official Babylonian documents in their original Babylonian language.
Chapter 1. The Man Daniel
Daniel was in the first group of captives taken from Jerusalem to Babylon (606 B.C.). He was of royal or noble blood (3). Josephus says that Daniel and his three friends were kin to king Zedekiah. That gave them easier entree to the palace of Babylon. Handsome brilliant young men, who were under the special care of God, and trained of Him to bear witness to His name in the heathen court that then ruled the world. The "king's dainties" (8), which they refused to eat, probably were foods that had been offered in sacrifice to Babylonian idols. Daniel's meteoric rise to world-wide fame is indicated in Ezekiel 14:14, 20; 28:3, written only 15 years later, while Daniel was still a very young man. What a remarkable man! Absolutely unswerving in his own religious convictions, yet so loyal to his idolatrous king that he was trusted with the affairs of the Empire.
Chapter 2. The Dream-Image
This was in the 2nd year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign as sole ruler. Daniel was still a mere lad, having been in Babylon only 3 years.
The Four World Empires here predicted are generally understood to have been the Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman. From the days of Daniel to the coming of Christ the world was ruled by these Four Empires, exactly as Daniel had predicted. In the days of the Roman Empire Christ appeared, and set up a kingdom which, starting as a grain of mustard seed, and passing through many vicissitudes, is now giving every evidence that it will become a Universal and Everlasting Kingdom, blossoming into full glory at the Lord's Return.
Critics who assign a Maccabean date to the book of Daniel, in order to explain it as referring to past events instead of being a prediction of the future, find it necessary to place all four empires prior to the date of composition, and so call the Persian Empire two Empires, Median and Persian, in order to make the Greek Empire the Fourth. But as a matter of fact there was not a Median Empire and a Persian Empire following the Fall of Babylon. To make it appear so is only an effort to distort the facts of history to substantiate a theory. Medes and Persians constituted One Empire under the rule of Persian kings. Darius the Mede was only a sub-king, ruling for a little while, under Cyrus the Persian, till Cyrus arrived.
Moreover, nothing happened in the Maccabean period that answers to the "Stone cut out of the mountains."
This prophecy of the Four Kingdoms is further expanded in chapter 7, the Four Beasts; chapter 8, the Ram and the He-Goat; chapter 9, the Seventy Weeks; and chapter 11, the Struggles between the Kings of the North and Kings of the South.
Chapter 3. The Fiery Furnace
According to the Septuagint this incident occurred in the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, after Daniel and his three friends had been in Babylon about 20 years. That was the same year that Nebuchadnezzar had burned Jerusalem (586 B.C.).
Just as God had revealed to Daniel the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, and its interpretation, years before, so now He puts into the hearts of these three men the firm determination to be true; and then He goes with them into the fire, not only to honor their faith, but to demonstrate before the assembled dignitaries of the far-flung empire, the Power of the God of Jerusalem over the boasted gods of Babylon. Thus a second time God manifested himself in the palace of the mighty empire, and a second time the mighty Nebuchadnezzar bowed before God, and proclaimed Him to be the True God to the utmost bounds of his empire.
The Apocryphal book called the "Song of the Three Holy Children" purports to be the song of praise of these three men for their deliverance. Inserted after 3:23. It embodied a popular tradition, but was never regarded as a part of the Hebrew Bible.
Oppert, who excavated in the ruins of Babylon (1854), found a pedestal of a colossal statue that may have been remains of Nebuchadnezzar's golden image.
Chapter 4. Nebuchadnezzar's Insanity and Recovery
This is the story of another Dream of Nebuchadnezzar's which Daniel interpreted, and which came true. Nebuchadnezzar was smitten with a mental disease, in which he fancied himself a beast and tried to act like one, roaming among the animals in the parks of the palace grounds. A third time Nebuchadnezzar bowed before God, and proclaimed His power to all the world. "Seven times" (32): the word means "seasons." Rendal Harris says that in Babylonia "summer and winter were the only seasons counted," according to which it would be 3 1/2 years.
In one of Nebuchadnezzar's inscriptions giving an account of his buildings and accomplishments occurs this as read by Sir Henry Rawlinson: "For four years the residence of my kingdom did not delight my heart. In no one of any possessions did I erect any important building by my might. I did not put up buildings in Babylon for myself and the honor of my name. In the worship of Merodach my god I did not sing his praise, nor did I provide his altar with sacrifices, nor clean the canals." This is thought by some possibly, to be a euphemistic reference to his insanity, though ancient kings in having their inscriptions made avoided recording such things.
Lenornrant states that Chaldeans had a tradition that Nebuchadnezzar ascended the roof of his palace, and cried, "O Babylonians, there shall come a Persian to impose servitude upon you. A Mede shall be his associate." This, if true, looks like Nebuchadnezzar had absorbed some of Daniel's ideas.
Chapter 5. Belshazzar's Feast
This was on the night of the Fall of Babylon. Daniel had been in Babylon 70 years. He was now a very old man.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: Belshazzar. Until 1853 no mention of Belshazzar was found in Babylonian records; and Nabonidas (555-518 B.c.), was known to have been the last king of Babylon. To the critics this was one of the evidences that the book of Daniel was not historical. But in l853 an inscription was found in a cornerstone of a
temple built by Nabonidas in Ur to a god, which read: "May l, Nabonidas, king of Babylon, not sin against thee. And may reverence for thee dwell in the heart of Belshazzar, my first-born, favorite son."
From other inscriptions it has been learned that Nabonidas, much of the time, was in retirement outside of Babylon, and that Belshazzar was in control of the army and the government, co-regent with his father, and that it was he who surrendered to Cyrus. This explains how Daniel could be "third ruler" in the kingdom (16, 29).
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: Handwriting on the Wall (25-28). The foundation of this very wall has been uncovered. (See the picture)
The Fall of Babylon is thus related by Xenophon, Herodotus and Berosus: "Cyrus diverted the Euphrates into a new channel, and, guided by two deserters, marched by the dry bed into the city, while the Babylonians were carousing at a feast of their gods."
Inscriptions, found in recent years, state that the Persian army, under Gobryas, took Babylon without a battle, that he killed the son of the king; that Cyrus entered later.
Darius (31), who reigned in Babylon till Cyrus took over (6:28; 9:1), is not mentioned in the inscriptions.
Nebuchadnezzar's Palace, Babylon.
He is thought to have been either Gobryas who was named in Babylonian tablets as conqueror of Babylon, or, as Josephus says, Cyaxares the Median father-in-law of Cyrus. To have a Babylonian name and a native name was common: as Daniel and his three friends were given new names (1:7). But whether Darius was father-in-law of Cyrus, or one of his generals, he led the army that conquered Babylon, while Cyrus was busy with his northern and western wars; and, until the personal arrival of Cyrus, reigned as king of Babylon, probably for about two years (538-516 B.C.).
Chapter 6. Daniel in the Lions Den
Daniel had been a high officer of the Babylonian Empire throughout its whole 70 years, and, though now e very old man, probably over 90, Darius the conqueror of Babylon immediately placed Daniel in charge of the Babylonian government. This probably was because Daniel had just foretold the victory of the Medes (5:28). What a
compliment to his wisdom, integrity and fairness. Yet he was unswerving in his personal devotion to his own God (10). What faith! And what courage! And what a doughty old man!
The Mirocles of this Book
Wonderful things are told in this book. To those who find it difficult to believe these things we say: let us remember that for a thousand years God had been nurturing the Hebrew Nation for the purpose of through that nation establishing in 2 world of Idolworshipping nations THE IDEA that GOD IS GOD. Now, God's nation had been destroyed by a nation that worshiped Idols. That was plain evidence to all the world that the gods of Babylon were more powerful than the God of the Jews. It was a crisis in God's struggle with Idolatry. If ever there was a time when God needed to do something to SHOW WHO IS GOD it was during the Babylonian Captivity. Strange indeed would it have been had nothing unusual happened. Something would have been lacking in the Biblical story had not these stupendous Miracles been wrought. Hard as it seems to believe them, it would be harder to believe the rest of the story without them.
At least the Jews, who had, from the beginning, been always falling into Idolatry, were now at last, in the Babylonian Captivity, convinced that their own God was the True God; and they have never since relapsed into Idolatry. No doubt these Miracles hid something to do with convincing them. These Miracles had a powerful influence
on both Nebuchadnezzar and Darius (3:29; 6:26).
Chapter 7. The Four Beasts
This is a continuation of the prophecy of chapter 2, which was uttered 60 years earlier: "two aspects of one grand scheme of history": Four World Empires, and then the Kingdom of God. In chapter 2 these are represented by an Image with a Head of Gold, a Breast of Silver, Thighs of Brass, and Feet of Iron, broken in pieces by a Stone. In this chapter these same Four World Empires are represented as a Lion, a Bear, a Leopard end a Terrible Beast.
These Four World Empires are commonly taken to be Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome ( see under chapter 2 ) , representing the period from Daniel to Christ. These Beasts seem to form the basis of the imagery of the Seven-Headed, Ten-Horned Beast of Revelation 13.
The "Ten Horns" of the Fourth Beast (24), are taken to be the ten kingdoms into which the Roman Empire was resolved. The "Other Horn" (8, 20, 24, 25), which should arise among the Ten Horns, is a combination of the Leopard Beast and Lamb Beast of
Revelation 13. The "three kings" which he displaced (8, 24), are thought to refer to Lombards, Ravenna and Rome, which were handed over to the Popes as the beginning of their Temporal Kingdom, (A.D.. 754).
On this interpretation we have a birds-eye view of World History: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Papal Rome. Rome was followed by "ten kingdoms," a round number we think denoting control of the world by a number of nations. A sort of ten-fold continuation of the Roman Empire till the End. There never has been a world empire since. Napoleon tried it; he failed. The Kaiser tried it; he failed. So did Hitler, but in vain. The "other horn" (8, 20, 24, 25), possibly refers to Antichrist.
Time periods of the Book of Daniel
"A time, times, and a half" (7:25), denotes the duration of the Other Horn of the Fourth Beast.
"A time, times, and e half" (12:7), denotes the period from Daniel to the time of the end (12:6).
"A time, times, and a half" is used in Revelation 12:14 as identical with 42 months and 1260 days (Revelation 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; 13:5), which expressions denote the period the Holy City was Trodden Down, the Two Witnesses Prophesied, the woman was in the Wilderness, and the Re-Vived Beast was on the Throne.
"2300 evenings and mornings" (8:14), the time the sanctuary was trodden under foot by the Little Horn of the Third Beast. It means either 2300 days; or 2300 half-days, that is, 1150 days; which is slightly short of 3 1/2 years, or almost double it.
"1290 days" (12:11), is the duration of the abomination of desolation, from its beginning to the time of the end.
"1335 days" 12:12), apparently is an extension of 45 days beyond the 1290 day period, culminating in final blessedness.
"70 weeks" (9:24), is the period from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the corning of the Messiah. It includes a "seven weeks" of troublous times (9:25), and a "one week" in which the anointed one was to be cut off (9:26, 27).
The wold "time," in the phrase "a time, times, and a half," is generally taken to mean "year," the phrase thus meaning 3 1/2) years; which is 42 months, which is 1260 days.
By some it is taken to mean a literal 3 1/2 years. Others, on the year-day interpretation (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6), take it to be a period of 1260 years. Still others look upon the figures, not as defining time limits or periods, but as being symbolical: 7 being the symbol of completeness, 3 1/2, which is 1/2 of 7, represents incompleteness, that is, the reign of evil shall be only temporary.
These time periods are used in close connection with the phrase "abomination of desolation" wrought by the Little Horn of the Third Beast (8:13; 11:31); which "abomination" also follows the cutting off of the Messiah (9:27); and is the point from which the 1290 days run (12:11). Jesus quotes this expression, "abomination of desolation," as referring to the impending Destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army (Matthew 24:15), in a discourse of blended words involving the End of the World.
"Troublous times" as spoken of for the 7 weeks at the beginning and 1 week at the end of the 70 week period (9:25, 27). A "time of trouble such as never was" (12:1), is predicted for the "time of the end" (12:4, 9, 13); and Jesus quotes the expression as doubly referring to the Destruction of Jerusalem and the End of the World (Matthew
Desecration of the Temple by Antiochus lasted 3 1/2 years (l68-165 B.C.). The Roman war against Jerusalem lasted 3 1/2 years (A.D. 67-70). The Papacy dominated the world for approximately 1260 years, 6th to 18th centuries A.D. Mohammedanism got control of Palestine (A.D. 63), and it was approximately 1260 years before it passed to control of Christendom (A.D. 1917).
We think that no one interpretation can exhaust the meaning of these time marks of Daniel. Possibly they may be taken both literally figuratively and symbolically. Possibly they may have primary fulfillment in an event of history, secondary fulfillment in another event, and ultimate fulfillment at the time of the end. The desecration of the Temple by Antiochus, the Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, Papal Usurpation in the Church, may all be forerunners and symbols of the Great Tribulation in the days of Antichrist. We should not be too disappointed if we fail to feel sure that we understand, for Daniel himself felt sick in not understanding (8:27).
Chapter 8. The Ram and the He-Goat
This chapter contains further predictions about the Second and Third World-Empires spoken of in chapters 2 and 7, that is, the Persian and Greek Empires.
The Persian Empire, represented in 7:5 as a devouring Bear, is hero presented as a Two-Horned Ram (3-4), it being a coalition of the Medes and Persians.
The Greek Empire, pictured in 7:6 as a Four-Headed Leopard, is here portrayed as a swift He-Goat bounding furiously from the west, having One great horn, which, when broken, was replaced by Four horns.
The Great Horn was Alexander the Great, who broke the Persian Empire 331 B.C. This prophecy was written 539 B.C., 200 years before its fulfillment. It is a most remarkable prediction of a clash, and the outcome, between two world-empires, neither of which had, at the time of the prediction, yet arisen.
Four Horns (8, 21-22), and Four Heads of 7:6, were Four Kingdoms into which Alexander's Empire was divided (see on chapter 11).
The Little Horn (9), which arose out of the Four, is generally agreed to mean Antiochus Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.), of the Syrian branch of the Greek Empire, who made a determined effort to stamp out the-Jewish religion (see under 11:21-35). Yet the repeated phrase "time of the end" (17, 19), may mean that along with the near view of Antiochus there may have been in the distant background of the vision the ominous outline of a far more terrible Destroyer (26), to mar the closing days of history, of whom Antiochus was a symbolic forerunner
Chapter 9. The Seventy Weeks
The Captivity, which was then drawing to a close, had lasted 70 years. Daniel is here told by the angel that it would yet be "70 weeks" till the coming of the Messiah (24).
The "70 weeks" is generally understood to mean 70 weeks of years, that is, 70 sevens of years, or seven times 70 years, that is 490 years. As if the angel were saying, The Captivity has been 70 years; the period between the Captivity and the Coming of the Messiah will be seven times that long.
Seven, and cycles of seven, sometimes have symbolic meanings; yet the actual facts of this prophecy are most amazing, as follows:
The date from which the 70 weeks was to be counted was the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (25). There were three decrees issued by Persian kings for this purpose (536 B.C., 457 B.C., 444 B.C., see under Ezra). The principal one of these was 457 B.C.
The 70 weeks is subdivided into 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and I week (25, 27).It is difficult to see the application of the "7 weeks"; but the 69 weeks (including the 7) equal 483 days, that is, on the year-day theory (Ezekiel 4:6), which is the commonly accepted interpretation, 483 years.
This 483 years is the period between the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the coming of the "Anointed One" (25). The decree to rebuild Jerusalem, as noted above, was 457 B.C. Adding 483 years to 457 B.C. brings us to A.D. 26, the very year that Jesus was baptized and began his public ministry. A most remarkable fulfillment of
Daniel's prophecy, even to the year.
Further, within 3 1/2, years Jesus was crucified, that is, "in the midst of the one week" "the Anointed One" was "cut off," "purged away sin and brought in everlasting righteousness" (24, 26, 27).
Thus Daniel foretold not only the Time at which the Messiah would appear, but also the Duration of his Public Ministry, and his Atoning Death for Human Sin.
Some think that God's chronology was suspended at the death of Christ, to remain so while Israel is scattered, and that the last half of the "one week" belongs to the time of the End.
Summary of Daniel's Prophecies
The Four Kingdoms, and then God's Everlasting Kingdom (chapter 2). Nebuchadnezzar's Insanity, and Recovery (chapter 4).
Fall of Babylon, and Rise of Persian Empire (chapter 5).
"Fourth" Empire, its "Ten Horns," and "Other Horn" (chapter 7),
Greek Empire, and its "Four Horns" (chapter 8).
The Seventy Weeks, rime from Daniel to Messiah (chapter 9).
Troubles of Holy Land in Inter-Testament period (chapter 11).
Signs of the Time of the End (chapter 12).
Chapter 10. Angels of the Nations
This last vision (chapters 10, 11, 12), was given two years after the Jews had returned to Palestine (534 B.C.), God lifted the veil and showed Daniel some realities of the unseen world-conflicts going on between superhuman intelligences, good and bad, in an effort to control the movements of nations, some of them seeking to protect God's
people. Michael was the guardian angel of Israel (13:21). An unnamed angel talked with Daniel. Greece had her angel (20), and so did Persia (13, 20). It seems that God was showing Daniel some of his secret agencies in operation to bring about the Return of Israel. One of them helped Darius (11:1). In this chapter they are represented as
being interested in the destiny of Israel; in Revelation, the destiny of the Church. In Revelation 12:7-9 Michael and his angels are in war with Satan and his angels. In Ephesians 6:12 powers of the unseen world are the chief enemies against which Christians have to fight. There was great angelic activity when Jesus was born. Jesus believed in angels (see under Matthew 4:11).
Chapter 11. Kings of the North and Kings of the South
Chapters 2, 7, 8, 9, 11 contain predictions about Four Empires, and events, from Daniel to Christ, and seem to have references to later world powers and events onward from Christ to the End. Here is a general outline of world history thus covered:
Babylonian Empire (606-536 B.C.).
Persian Empire (536-332 B.C.).
Greek Empire, with its Four Divisions (311-146 B.C.).
Wars of Syrian and Egyptian Greek Kings (323-146 B.C.).
Antiochus Epiphanes, Desecration of Jerusalem (175-164 B.C.).
Roman Empire (146 B.C.-A.D. 400).
Public Ministry of Christ (A.D. 20-30).
Destruction of Jerusalem, by Roman Army (A.D. 70).
The Papacy as a World-Power, 6th to 18th centuries.
Mohammedan Control of Holy Land, 7th to 20th centuries.
World Troubles, and the Resurrection, at "time of the End."
These predictions are progressive in their explanations of details. In chapter 2 a general statement that from the days of Daniel to the days of the Messiah there would be Four World Empires. In chapter 7 details of Fourth Empire. In chapter 8 details of Second and Third Empires. In chapter 11 more details of Third Empire.
The Third Empire was the Greek Empire founded by Alexander the Great (331 B.C.). On his death it was divided among his generals as follows: Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt. In this chapter the kings of Syria are called "kings of the north." Kings of Egypt are called "kings of the south." Daniel's predictions of the movements of these kings were uttered 200 years before there was a Greek Empire and nearly 400 years before these kings existed. His minute description of their movements is a most extraordinary parallel between prediction and subsequent history. Chapter 11 is pre-written lnter-Testament history. Here is an outline of events answering to the verses in which they were predicted:
"Three kings in Persia" (2): Cyrus, Cambyses, Darius Hystaspes. The "fourth": Xerxes, the richest and most powerful of Persian kings, invaded Greece, but was defeated at Salamis (480 B.C.).
"A mighty king" (3): Alexander the Great. "Fourfold" division of his kingdom (4) Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt.
"King of the south" (5): Ptolemy I of Egypt. "One of his princes": Seleucus Nicator, originally an officer under Ptolemy I, became king of Syria, most powerful of Alexander's successors.
"Daughter" (6): Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy II, was given in marriage to Antiochus II, and was murdered.
"A shoot from her roots" (7): Ptolemy III, brother of Berenice, in retaliation, invaded Syria, and won a great victory (8).
"Two sons" (10): Seleucus III and Antiochus III (11-12): Ptolemy IV defeated Antiochus III with great loss in the battle of Raphia, near Egypt (217 B.C.) (13): Antiochus III, after 14 years, returned with a great army against Egypt. (14): Jews helped Antiochus. (15): he defeated the forces of Egypt. (16): Antiochus conquered Palestine. (17): Antiochus gave his daughter Cleopatra in treacherous marriage
alliance to Ptolemy V, hoping through her to get control of Egypt. But she stood with her husband (18-19): Antiochus then invaded Asia Minor and Greece, and was defeated by the Roman army at Magnesia (190 B.C.). Returned to own land and was slain.
"A contemptible person" (21-35): Antiochus Epiphanes. (21): Not the rightful heir, he got the throne by treachery. (22-25): He made himself master of Egypt, partly by force and partly by cunning deceit. (26): Ptolemy VI, son of Cleopatra, nephew of Antiochus, was defeated by treachery of his subjects. (27): Under guise of
friendship Antiochus and Ptolemy vied with each other in treachery. (28): Returning from Egypt Antiochus attacked Jerusalem, slew 80,000, took 40,000 and sold 40,000 Jews into slavery. (29): Antiochus again invaded Egypt. But the Roman fleet compelled him to retire. (30, 31): He vented his anger on Jerusalem and desecrated the Temple. (32): He was helped by apostate Jews. (32-35): Exploits of the heroic Maccabean brothers.
Chapter 12. The Time of the End
Daniel closes his sketches of the epochs and events of world history with a sweep forward to the End (4, 9, 13); when there shall be trouble such as never was (1), followed by Resurrection of the dead, and the Everlasting Glory of the Saints (2, 3).
"A time of trouble, such as never was" (1), is not inapplicable to our own generation: torture, suffering and death, of whole populations, by demon dictators, no more intense perhaps than the atrocities perpetrated by Antiochus, Titus, the Roman Emperors, and the Popes of the Inquisition, but on a scale unparalleled in all previous history.
"Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (4), is to be a characteristic of the time of the End. This, too, applies to our own generation, as it has to no other: trains, automobiles, ships, airplanes, books, newspapers and radios; as a means of travel and dissemination of knowledge, on a scale never before dreamed of.
And now, on top of all this, has come the nuclear bomb, which has struck error to the hearts of men to such a degree, that it makes us wonder if we may be living in the period which Jesus spoke of as a setting for His Return, "on the earth distress of nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea, men fainting for fear, and expectation of the things that are coming on the world" (Luke 21:25, 26)
As to verses 36-45: Antiochus Epiphanes? Or Mohammedan Possession of Holy Land? Or Antichrist? Or all three?